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Getting personal with AI – Ray Wang

Humans and machines need to learn from each other, says Ray Wang.

By April Slattery

The will they or won’t they debate surrounding robots replacing humans has caught the imagination of both business and consumer in recent times, with a myriad of reports putting forward a plethora of stats in support of the opportunity, or threat, of robots and AI.

Thus, it was unsurprising that a key focus on day two of the SAP User Group Conference was on the polarising emerging technology.

Principal Analyst and Founder, Constellation Research, Inc.

Ray Wang, Principal Analyst, Founder, and Chairman of Silicon Valley based Constellation Research, took to the stage to pose the topical question , ‘Will Robots Take Over?’

The answer put forth by Wang, unsurprisingly, was not straightforward. Yes, AI and machines will take over certain jobs, but there will always be a need for human input when it comes down to qualities such as creativity, compassion and physical presence.

Drawing upon the collaboration themes which were so prominent in the opening keynote of the conference, Wang stressed that working with and alongside machines would result in the best business outcomes.

“Machines see patterns we cannot see and vice versa. We are learning from each other,” said Wang.

“It’s all about taking the things we do really well and giving us the ability to do these things better; taking those things we stink at, like lengthy processes, and automating them to improve operations.”

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Wang went on to exemplify the importance of using AI within businesses to boost the services customers receive, especially when it comes to the personalisation of services.

“In a digital world, every choice is a demand signal and you want to give everyone as many choices as possible to process. Every AI driven smart service  starts with a little bit of information, then we start processing that to bring different immersive experiences to customers whether it’s through mobile, headsets or voice.

“We then deliver mass personalisation at scale. Then ultimately we give you choices that lead to a decision, which leads to value exchange. Then we put machine learning in place so we can learn what behaviour is likely to happen next time,” Wang said.


Touching upon the predictive capabilities that machine learning can bring a business, Wang impressed that prediction isn’t everything – instead, AI should be geared towards prevention.

Exemplifying use cases such as customers with severe nut allergies, Wang said:

“AI is useful for prediction but also prevention when you learn the personalised elements of a customer.”

“Businesses make sense of data to get insights to allow them to take action and to constantly make better decisions. Learning behaviours helps businesses offer more for their customers, bettering companies.”

Stating that “AI needs to be about helping clients shift business models and not just helping them paint digital paths,” Wang impressed the need for the business and IT to work together to offer the best service possible to the customer. Again, drawing on the main theme of collaboration, Wang said that it was imperative that the business compliments and works with IT production towards shared outcomes.

Thus, even with AI, collaboration seems to be the key to success. Not just for the business and IT, but for humans and robots to co-exist and succeed together.

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